Satya Nadella on Platform and Ecosystem Strategy

I thought this fireside chat between Satya Nadella and Mary Jo Foley was one of the best interviews the Microsoft CEO has conducted: he’s clear, transparent and articulate when talking about our opportunities and the strategy for entering markets where we don’t necessarily have a prevailing lead. Well worth a read if you haven’t already:

A few points that really stood out for me:

  • “So to me it's very important to think of our operating system more broadly than some old definition of an operating system” – if we have application endpoints like Outlook, Skype on every device, we have platform endpoints: Office 365, Microsoft Account, Azure AD.

  • We’re not going to put all our resources into winning the existing phone market when market disruption is the status quo. “Today the high volume device is the six-inch phone. But to think that that's what the future is for all time to come would be to make the same mistake we made in the past without even having the share position of the past… We have to be on the hunt for what's the next bend in the curve.”

  • A reaffirmation that we should never be afraid to partner. “We were always a platform company. I want us to be able to live that in our approach… It makes all the sense in the world for us to think about [partnership with competitors] fundamentally as non-zero sum… We have three platforms I like to talk about: Windows, Azure and Office. I like to think all three of these will be open for others to extend and, of course, we will construct them together.”

  • On customer obsession: “I want to be more customer-led. When we say customer-led, that doesn't mean just listen to customers about X and then do the same feature. It's about being able to anticipate what we can do to really differentiate their own lives… That is how we created Microsoft. Nobody had done Visual Basic. Nobody had done Access. Nobody had done Outlook. We created categories or democratized categories.”

  • We need to think more in terms of connected scenarios that enable developer productivity that spans cloud to client. “The other thing that matters is rapid application development. In our case, we take a Lumia device, you power up Azure App Services, and out come Universal Apps that automate workflows. I think that's unbeatable in terms of a value proposition. That's why we have something unique to contribute.”

There's an interesting blend of the teenage Microsoft that I joined at the turn of the century (developers and platform are everything, obsessive about productivity), and a new Microsoft that is exciting to be a participant in (it's not a zero sum game to partner with competitors, optimize for beyond the curve rather than the next release). Bodes well for the future.